Edwards addresses students in speech

by Stephanie Kudrle

President George W. Bush has failed college students, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards told thousands gathered at Maple Grove High School on Sunday.

He said the president cut spending on Pell Grants and broke his promise to help curb the cost of college. Edwards also touched on the war in Iraq, healthcare and stem cell research during his speech.

“Hope is on the way for students having trouble coming up with tuition money,” he said.

The school’s hot gymnasium was packed to capacity with approximately 5,000 supporters. Approximately 1,000 more supporters had to settle for listening to Edwards’ speech in the cafeteria or outside.

During his speech, Edwards praised Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry for his performances in the recent debates.

“There was one man on that stage telling the truth about Iraq, one man telling the truth about jobs and health care,” Edwards said.

He said Bush refuses to recognize his mistakes in Iraq and acknowledge the country is going down the wrong path.

The country sees the “mess in Iraq” every night on the television, Edwards said, and Kerry will bring back U.S. allies to help the country become respected in the world once again.

Approximately 5 million Americans have lost their health-care coverage, he said, and approximately 1.6 million private sector jobs have been lost.

Kerry, unlike Bush, has a plan to help people afford their health-care coverage, he said.

“Bush’s health-care plan has been, ‘Pray you don’t get sick,’ ” Edwards said.

Americans should be allowed to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, he said, and drug companies should stop investing in TV ads. That money should be used to bring down the cost of medicine, he said.

He said the federal government should lift bans on embryonic stem cell research to find cures for diseases.

Jana Hawkins, a Plymouth, Minn., pharmacist said something needed to be done about rising health-care costs.

She said she attended the event to hear Edwards address the problem.

“If we can’t take care of our poor and elderly, what good are we as a country?” Hawkins said.

Staci McGinty, a 24-year-old from Plymouth, said she came to see Edwards because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

She said was glad to hear Edwards talk about helping middle-class families and fixing the poor job market.

Two high school seniors preparing their applications for college said they were excited to hear Kerry’s plan for students.

Kerry has a plan to give four years of college tuition for young people who do two years of public service, Edwards said.

“He would really help us go to college and not worry about paying for it,” said Hopkins High School senior Michael DeWane.

Alexandra Szajner, also from Hopkins, Minn., said the government needed to fully fund the Pell Grant to give more people access to a college education.